A small team from the newly formed Liberian Coast Guard successfully launched, for the first time, a Zodiac boat off of Bushrod Island, the historic home of the Liberian maritime forces, March 25, 2010.
The event was historic for the unit of 49 men and one woman, which was activated just more than a month earlier at Liberia’s 53rd Annual Armed Forces Day in Monrovia….
After a decade’s long absence from the water, the coast guard’s activation signaled Liberia’s commitment to reestablish its presence on its territorial waters.
Watching from the stands that day, and also looking on with pride the day of the boat launch, was U.S. Coast Guard Commander Jennifer Ketchum, who works out of U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) Monvoria Office of Security Cooperation, responsible for coordinating all security cooperation engagements between the U.S. and Liberia…..Throughout the next three years the United States government will provide $5 million worth of training, equipment and infrastructure to the new coast guard, according to Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to Liberia.
The coast guard’s base on Bushrod Island is being re-established and is undergoing improvements that are being executed and overseen by a unit of U.S. Navy Seabees from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Seven out of Gulfport, Mississippi. The team is working on three major infrastructure construction projects valued at $1.3 million – a pier, a boat ramp and perimeter wall, all of which are being funded by AFRICOM’s Counternarcotics and Law Enforcement Division.
Liberia, a country slightly larger than Tennessee, has 300 miles of coastline and Liberia’s director of the Bureau of National Fisheries estimates that Liberia loses more than $12 million annually due to illegal fishing. Another threat is drug smugglers using West African nations as a transshipment point for $1.8 billion in illegal narcotics and counterfeit drugs.